Lackawanna County to Launch Another Round of Small Business Grants

Lackawanna County will launch another round of a popular program providing $5,000 grants to qualifying small businesses.

Commissioners approved Wednesday a second phase of the program originally offered last year to combat pandemic-prompted inflation. Funding for the program’s extension, $500,000 in total, comes from the county’s federal American Rescue Plan Act allocation.

It’s designed to help businesses still recovering from the financial impacts of the pandemic and subsequent economic challenges, including inflation that drove up costs and limited consumer purchasing power. While inflation has abated significantly since a pandemic-era peak in 2022, some businesses continue to face challenges stemming from the economic disruption.

The flexible grant funding can be used to purchase equipment, pay or add personnel and cover other business expenses, such as rent, mortgages and utilities.

“Our local businesses are what makes our home here in Lackawanna County so special, and we all understand that they’re still facing economic pressure because of inflation due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Commissioner Matt McGloin said. “That’s why it’s important for us to continue to try to find ways to help our local businesses, because we understand that financial assistance at this critical time can be the difference between businesses staying in business or closing permanently.”

Eligible businesses must be for-profit, employ between one and 100 people and spend all of the grant money in Lackawanna County. They also must have faced pandemic-related hardships and been operating in or before 2019, among other terms.

More than 200 businesses applied during the first round of the program, with the county awarding 100 grants, economic development Director Kristin Magnotta said. Those that received grants during the first phase are not eligible during the second.

“We want to be able to spread it far and wide to all those that need help,” Magnotta said of the funding.

The grant window will open May 31 and runs through July.

Application materials and instructions will be available on the planning and economic development page of the county’s website, Hard copies of the application will also be available in the vestibule of the county government center, 123 Wyoming Ave., Scranton.

Scranton Tomorrow to Host Deck the Downtown

Summer specials are heating up in Downtown Scranton! In honor of July as Independents Month, we’re encouraging everyone to Deck the Downtown and celebrate Christmas in July! From July 22 through 29, participating Downtown Scranton businesses will offer special promotions. It’s all the fun of holiday shopping without the ice and snow.

Scranton Awards First ARPA Grants for Small Business Development

The City of Scranton awarded nearly $350,000 to support the creation and expansion of small businesses on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. Businesses applied in the Fall of 2022 for the grants that are part of the City’s $68.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

“By investing in small businesses, we’re helping others create new jobs, revitalize buildings, and find solutions to emerging problems in our community,” Mayor Paige G. Cognetti announced at Downtown Deli, 300 Biden St., Scranton. “Our first ARPA Startup and Expansion grants support businesses that are as diverse as the City itself, and there’s still more grant money to help others realize their dream of building or growing their business right here in Scranton.”

Through a spending plan approved by City Council in May 2022, the City allocated a total of $1.25 million to support the creation and expansion of Scranton’s small businesses. Applications opened in September 2022, but the City revised grant guidelines in November to make funding more accessible. Applicants can receive up to 25% of eligible costs in their startup or expansion project budget, with a $100,000 limit per business. Approximately $900,000 remains to support startup and expansion projects, and submissions are under constant review. Applications remain open, and funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Applications were weighed based upon the City’s ARPA mission, which aims to give people access to resources, rebuild infrastructure systems that impact everyday life, and foster equitable wealth generation targeting residents’ needs. All applications were reviewed by the City, compliance consultants from Anser Advisory, and representatives of both the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania for business sustainability and duplication of benefits, among other factors.

At Tuesday’s announcement, Mayor Cognetti was joined by grant recipients including Downtown Deli, Retro Café, and Unison Workforce Technologies.

“This project is three years in the making. We had the idea to expand into a catering business before the pandemic, but we needed a little extra help to get it off the ground,” said Downtown Deli General Manager Denise Leppo. “It’s wonderful to get this funding from the City to finally get up and running.”

“We have been developing our app FYSH (Fuel Your Side Hustle) for over a year now! Covid really delayed our project, yet we continued to pay our staff through the entire pandemic,” added Marilyn Major, CEO of Unison Workforce. “I am so appreciative of Mayor Cognetti and the city for this generous funding that will help make our app successful so we can hire more people in the near future.”

Grant recipients, the funding they will receive, and their project details, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Downtown Deli, 300 Biden Street, $77,234 towards the addition of catering services, including the physical expansion of their downtown footprint along Biden Street for both food preparation and service. The Deli will also build a new accessible restroom.
  • Little Wild Refillery, 343 N. Washington Avenue, $19,376 for the ongoing support of the seven-month-old sustainable goods and zero-waste shop, including the creation of a new part-time position. The business previously received a $5,000 Small Business Microgrant from the City.
  • Nlyten Corp., doing business as GUIDE, located at the Scranton Enterprise Center, 201 Lackawanna Avenue, $100,000 for the tech startup’s creation of multiple full-time positions, with a focus on hiring recent graduates of local colleges and universities. The company anticipates a February 2023 launch of its GUIDE mobile app, which is designed to deliver proven behavioral health and wellness practices to veterans and first responders, empowering them to resolve past trauma, improve their well-being, and achieve their highest potential. Details at
  • Retro Café, 1139 Capouse Avenue, $53,000 for the conversion of a former derelict and condemned Lackawanna County Landbank property into a new café in the Pine Brook section. Funding will support construction costs, inventory, payroll, and more. Retro Café previously received a $70,000 loan-to-grant from the Scranton Office of Community and Economic Development to help fund two new employees.
  • Unison Workforce Technologies, located at the Scranton Enterprise Center 201 Lackawanna Avenue, $100,000 for the ongoing development of its mobile application “FY$H – Fuel Your Side Hustle,” an app designed to support the thriving self-employed gig economy. Grant funding will support user experience development, quality testing, and an ambitious employment growth plan through 2025.

The City also announced a $25,000 ARPA grant for small business financial recovery to Crotti’s on Ash, 1431 Ash Street.

ARPA funding opportunities for small businesses remain open. The second round of applications for business recovery grants of up to $25,000 and Wage Boost grants of up to $50,000 over two years closes on January 31. Façade improvement grants of up to $10,000 remain open with applications closing in September. Information about Scranton’s ARPA plan is online at

  • ARPA funding supports 25% of business development and expansion budgets.
  • The first five organizations will receive a total of $349,610.
  • Nearly all projects include plans for job creation directly in the City.

Grow Your Small Business with an Internship in 2023

Thursday, 11/10/22
8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

For existing small businesses located in Bradford, Lackawanna, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne, and Wyoming Counties: 

Could hosting an internship propel your business forward in 2023? Join The University of Scranton SBDC, Small Business Internship Initiative, and the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce for a quick 30-minute session to learn about what a paid educational internship is, different types of internships (traditional, micro, hybrid, or virtual), and what makes up a great internship. Determine whether you’re ready to host an internship this coming Spring and learn more about the Small Business Internship Initiative. Hear from the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce about their Small Business Internship Fund resource, too.

Registration Link        
Facebook Event Link   

Disaster Blaster Newly Launched Franchising Program

The challenge was how to take a business operating in an industry already valued at $210 billion and make it even better. The father-and-son team behind Disaster Blaster believe they have built a better mousetrap and are now ready to expand their business model on a national basis via franchising.

Founded in 2006, Disaster Blaster is a full-service, indoor restoration firm specializing in water damage, smoke damage, duct cleaning, asbestos abatement, and a wide range of other services, including meth lab cleanup and remediation – the only company in its market professionally trained to perform such work. Gary Lyons, 71, and son Matthew Lyons, 39, formed a mitigation and restoration company that separates itself from the competition with a simple but highly impactful strategy: Disaster Blaster offers the most services to the most wide-ranging customer base; one that encompasses insurance claims, commercial clients, property owners, cleaning companies, home sellers and buyers, schools, and universities and more.

“We wanted to address what we saw as serious issues inherent in the industry as a whole, such as the seasonality of service offerings and the over-reliance on certain customer segments and revenue sources,” Gary said of the restoration industry, which has been valued at $210 billion, according to IBISWorld. “That led us to develop the Disaster Blaster brand and concept that addressed the seasonality issue within our industry and create stability in growth, revenue, and income.”

Already approved to sell franchises in 30 states, Disaster Blaster is selling territories throughout the country, with the average territory including a population of between 150,000 to 200,000. Experience in management or the trades is beneficial, but not required. “We want someone who is honest, dependable, and ethical,” Matthew said. “We want individuals who will represent the Disaster Blaster brand well in their territory and have a long-term interest in the brand and fulfilling the needs of their customers. And we want to offer a startup business to couples and individuals who are looking to operate a small mobile business that otherwise may be out of reach for them.”

Disaster Blaster considers itself the “Indoor Environmental Experts” and also provides radon mitigation, flood cleanup, mold remediation, odor removal, vandalism repair, basement waterproofing and reconstruction. But Disaster Blaster’s meth lab cleanup and remediation is certainly a differentiator.

According to figures from a report by news organization Spotlight PA, the “Pennsylvania State Police, the agency that typically handles drug lab busts here, logged 923 incidents” from 2017 to 2021. Matthew said Disaster Blaster began offering meth remediation about six years ago after they received several requests for the service.

Spotlight PA further reported that although meth remediation makes up less than 10 percent of Disaster Blaster’s projects, Matthew said he’s hoping the state will eventually regulate the service. Clients are generally property owners or managers who want to clean a property so it can be rented again; people who purchased bank-owned properties without knowing the full history of the home; and insurance companies. The jobs are complex and take at least two weeks.

“We didn’t believe it was that big of a problem up here,” Matthew told Spotlight PA. “I grew up here. I’ve lived in northeast Pennsylvania most of my life. I never expected that we would have the issues here that we have.”

The possible effects of climate change are another area that Matthew said might impact their service offerings in the future. “It will be interesting to see how that may impact our services and/or the need for our services,” he said. “Additionally, homeowners are becoming more and more aware of the needs for our services for such things as mold, radon, or asbestos remediation.”

Although they formed Disaster Blaster in 2006, both Gary and Matthew have been involved in the industry since 1996. Both owned separate mitigation and restoration businesses until they decided to launch Disaster Blaster together. Gary also worked in the insurance industry for more than 20 years as a claims representative handling mitigation and property restoration claims and later as a claims manager overseeing close to 100 offices across the country. Likewise, Matthew started working in the mitigation/property restoration industry when he was 14 and holds multiple industry certifications.

“My experience in handling property claims for insurance companies has been invaluable in helping our customers navigate the claims process and will also be an invaluable resource for our franchisees,” Gary said.

While they both operated similar businesses on their own, Gary and Matthew said there was a period of adjustment as they combined their knowledge and experience to create a newly branded company. “We had to essentially start over from scratch,” Matthew said. “We had to market to customers who didn’t know our name yet. We had to develop our own marketing, relationships, and vendors. It was a lot of change, but it was well worth it in the end.”

“We love watching people succeed and are anxious to help our franchisees grow their businesses,” Gary said. “We are excited to watch the Disaster Blaster brand grow nationally, broadening our ability to assist more homeowners in need of our services or with existing environmental issues.”

DaKor Furniture and theKimmy Hosting Pop Up Shop This Weekend

Visit DaKor Furniture – 306 S. State St. in Clarks Summit – will be hosting a pop up shop this weekend on Saturday, January 29 and Sunday, January 30 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Stop by to visit local small businesses including theKIMMY and more!

Chamber Announces Fall 2021 SAGE Awards Finalists

Today, we announced the finalists for the Fall 2021 SAGE Awards, the Scranton Awards for Growth and Excellence. The SAGE Awards honor outstanding local businesses for their talent, creativity, and innovation. The winners will be announced on Friday, November 12 at the Chamber Gala, a black-tie optional event held safely at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center and presented by Fidelity Bank.

More than 80 applications were received for this year’s awards and 50 community leaders and professionals volunteered to review applications and select finalists. The Chamber is proud to honor businesses that are making valuable contributions to the region and contributing to our overall quality of life.

The finalists, in each category, are:

• Pioneer Construction Company Inc.
• Posture Interactive
• Scranton Area Community Foundation

• Center City Print
• Hilton Scranton & Conference Center
• theKIMMY

• Fidelity Bank
• Horizon Dental Care
• The Honesdale National Bank

• FNCB Bank
• Golden Technologies
• Posture Interactive

• Children’s Advocacy Center of NEPA
• Scranton Jazz Festival
• Scranton Tomorrow

• Friends of the Poor
• NeighborWorks of Northeastern Pennsylvania
• The University of Scranton

• Golden Technologies
• Hematology & Oncology Associates of Northeastern Pennsylvania, PC
• The Settlers Inn

• Friends of the Poor
• Montage Mountain Resorts
• One Point, Inc.

• CTB Studio
• Epic Revenue Consultants
• Reed Advisory Group

• Agency for Community EmPOWERment of NEPA
• Miller-Keystone Blood Center
• Treatment Court Advocacy Center of Lackawanna County

• Center City Print
• Noteology
• Quest Studio

Congrats to all finalists!! The recipient of each award will be announced on Friday, November 12 at the Chamber Gala, a black-tie optional event held safely at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center.

In addition, all award finalists can also win the People’s Choice Award, where the winner will be chosen by a community wide online vote on our website from Monday, November 1 through Friday, November 5.